Spring has almost sprung past us, and summertime is headed straight for us. Here in the south, we are always looking for ways to fix great meals without “heatin’ up the kitchen.”

Salad lunches and suppers are the perfect way for you to stay cool and still enjoy a delicious meal.

Whenever I need cooking inspiration, I turn to some of my favorite ladies. Church ladies, prayer partners and family members can always be counted on to provide the best of the best of home cooking. Or in this case, home chopping.

One of my favorite summer salads came from my friend Tammy Heflin. She is everything I am not. Quiet, demure, and incredibly kind hearted.

She made a salad for a youth group gathering once and everyone just inhaled it.

Tortilla corn salad came from a Cox family reunion that Tammy attended years ago. Joan Cox Chamness served this salad, and passed the recipe on to Tammy.

It’s easy, and delicious. Pair it with something off the grill and you have a wonderful meal.

My friend Martha Handschumacher is always able to recognize a new recipe for its possibilities.

Martha is a fan of southern comedian, Leanne Morgan. Leanne says “my people make Jello salads. We are country people and we love them.”

Martha shared this recipe with other family members, and I’m proud she shared it with me.

Blueberry Jello salad will quickly become a favorite for us, because we grow blueberries.

Anytime a recipe calls for fruit and involves cream cheese, we know it’s going to be good. This recipe makes a great side dish and can also serve as a delicious summer dessert.

If it graces Martha’s dining room, I want it to also grace mine.

If I need meat in a salad, I have three “go to recipes.”

Two of them came from my Aunt Evelyn, from Bayou La Batre. She was a phenomenal cook and one of the strongest Christian women I have ever known in my life.

If she was willing to share a recipe, you knew to grab it! I’m grateful that my Mama and my much older sisters kept up with these recipes and shared them with me.

Shrimp Salad was a bridal and baby shower staple for Aunt Evelyn.

It could be served with crackers from a crystal dish (preferably footed) or used as stuffing for celery sticks. She really believed in celery sticks for this dish.

My sister Cindi and I cut many a celery stalk under her watchful eye. She was quick to tell you if the celery pieces were the wrong length (size needed to be consistent for presentation y’all) or if she saw a string that you might have missed.

In her ladylike voice, with her beautiful red hair in her signature beehive, you would hear “Hon, I think you may need to check those last few pieces. Watch that stuffing now.”

No way was an un-uniformed or stringy piece of celery getting past her!

My Mama took Aunt Evelyn’s delicious Chicken Salad recipe and tweaked it for us to enjoy. She tossed out the boiled eggs and added extra pecans for crunch.

Sometimes I add chopped walnuts to this recipe, too, but I always feel like maybe I’m being frowned upon from the great beyond.

Chicken salad is one recipe that Cindi has perfected over time, and is also still a favorite for teas and showers. Somehow, it just doesn’t seem like a real party without chicken salad.

My third favorite recipe with meat is tuna salad. How can you live in the south and not share tuna recipes?

My MeeMaw Watts used to love it when my sisters would come to her house for lunch.

Sometimes they would take carry out meals, but when it was close to payday, they made tuna salad. MeeMaw would graciously boil them an egg, but that was the end of it for her.

“If y’all are gonna be makin chuna salad in my kitchen, tie that can up in a plastic sack and take it outside. And don’t forget to rinch my zinc out when you’re done.”

Frankie Ann wasn’t going to stand for that nasty smell in her house. I never understood how the boiling egg smell was okay, but the “chuna” was singled out and forbidden.

Another great salad that is quick and easy is Oriental Salad. It’s really a slaw, but my Mama called it salad so I’m not about to change it!

All of the ingredients are easy to keep on hand; all you need to grab is the fresh slaw mix and green onions.

Every potluck I attend at the First United Methodist Church will have this salad show up on the table. It even made the cut for our church cookbook years ago.

Any time you have a chance to get a church cookbook take it. They hold recipes that are time tested and crowd approved. Church ladies will never steer you wrong when cooking is involved.

Summer salads are always a hit here in the south. It doesn’t matter if they are chopped, diced, frozen, or tossed.

They are a great way to bring fresh vegetables to your diet and add color to your table.

Get ready to mix up one of these great recipes; I’m hoping they will bless your heart.

Tortilla Corn Salad

2 cans Green Giant Niblet Corn

1 bell pepper (finely chopped)

½ red onion, finely chopped

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

½ cup mayonnaise

2 cups Nacho Cheese Doritos, broken into pieces

or

2 cups Chili Cheese Fritos, broken into pieces

Mix first five ingredients well. Add chips as you are ready to serve.

Blueberry Jello Salad

2 cups boiling water

6 oz. blackberry jello

16 oz. crushed pineapple, drained

1 can blueberry pie filling

Topping:

8 oz. softened cream cheese

½ cup powdered sugar

8 oz Cool Whip, thawed

In a large bowl, combine Jello and boiling water. Stir until dissolved, then add drained pineapple and pie filling. Pour into 9x13 inch pan and refrigerate for two hours until firm.

Blend cream cheese and sugar together, and then add Cool Whip. Spread this mixture over set Jello. Refrigerate at least one hour before serving. This recipe is also good with cherry Jello and cherry pie filling.

Shrimp Salad

2 cups cooked shrimp, chopped

2 TBS fresh chives, finely chopped

4 TSP fresh lemon juice

1 cup mayonnaise

4 dashes of Tabasco

½ TSP salt

Combine all ingredients well. Refrigerate one hour or more. Serve with lettuce or use as filling for celery sticks.

Chicken Salad

2 cups cooked, chopped chicken

3 TBS red onion, finely chopped

3 TBS celery, finely chopped

1 TBS dill relish

1/3 to ½ cup mayonnaise

1/4 TSP salt

1/8 TSP black pepper

½ cup chopped pecans

½ cup red grapes, quartered

Mix mayonnaise, relish, salt, pepper, onion, and celery together.

Stir chicken, grapes and pecans together. Slowly add mayonnaise mixture to chicken mixture. Chill. Serve on croissants, in phyllo cups, or with crackers.

Marcie’s Tuna Salad

2 cans tuna, well drained

2 hard boiled eggs, finely chopped

1/3 cup dill pickles, chopped

1/3 cup white onion, finely chopped

½ TSP garlic salt

3 TBS mayonnaise

Dash of fresh lemon juice

Mix garlic salt and lemon juice with mayonnaise. Slowly add other ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate until chilled. Serve on lettuce, with toasted bread, or with crackers.

*Remember, you will need a sack to tie up the “chuna” can!

Oriental Salad

1 pkg Ramen Noodle Soup, beef flavor

1 pkg. Ramen Noodle Soup, oriental flavor

1 cups toasted slivered almonds

1 pkg toasted sunflower seeds

1 bunch chopped green onions

1 lb pkg slaw mix

1 cup oil

½ cup sugar

1/3 cup vinegar

Crush noodles in package. Mix with almonds, sunflower seeds, onions and slaw mix.

Combine Ramen flavor packs with oil, sugar and vinegar. Mix well. Pour over noodle mixture. Add slaw, mixing well. Refrigerate before serving.

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